Embattled Hovan comes up big

Vikings DT plays well after turbulent week

Knight Ridder Newspapers

HOUSTON -- Vikings defensive tackle Chris Hovan doesn't care what people think of him or write about him.

"People can write what they want,'' Hovan said Sunday after the Vikings' 34-28 overtime victory over the Houston Texans. "They can say, 'He's this. He's that. He's overrated.' I'm only as good as I can be. I want to be the best.''

He has a ways to go to be the best defensive tackle in the league, but Hovan did play his best game of the season.


Credited earlier with an assisted tackle and a tipped pass, Hovan left a mark on the game's outcome when he and fellow defensive tackle Steve Martin sacked Texans quarterback David Carr on a third-and-two play from the Houston 41 in overtime.

The Texans had to punt and never had possession again. The Vikings won six plays later on Daunte Culpepper's 50-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson.

"That was tremendous. The pressure's been on Hove all year, and he really stepped up and made a great play," said Kevin Williams, another Vikings defensive tackle. "That got us off the field and got the ball back to our offense. He just wants to make plays and do his job on the field. He's not trying to get caught up in the mix of what's being said.''

Sunday went better for Hovan than the days leading up to it. Wednesday, Hovan had an animated conversation with coach Mike Tice after Martin lined up with the first-team defense earlier in practice.

Afterward, Tice talked about taking snaps away from Hovan in games and wouldn't say whether he would start against the Texans. "As a player, you've got to rise up. When you're afforded opportunities, you have to make plays,'' Hovan said. "Today, with pressure, hits and the sack, I made plays.''

Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell lauded Hovan's play: "I thought he did a great job of using his hands more and keeping his feet moving. The result was we were making more plays. We had some heat on the quarterback and some hits."

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